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The Carrie Ann Inaba Interview (Page 2 of 3)

Hey, Carrie Ann!
An Interview with Carrie Ann Inaba

Gary Barg: How do the kids respond? 

Carrie Ann Inaba: It is wonderful. You can just see the empowering feeling that they have. When any patient is undergoing treatment, the doctors are really in charge of the body; so in this brief moment, 20 minutes of their day, they are in charge of their body and that is empowering. You can see them feel so good about themselves. It is an amazing experience.

Gary Barg: I bet the parents are thrilled to see joy in their kids’ faces, maybe for the first time.

Carrie Ann Inaba: Yes, they are, and it is a beautiful thing to see. It takes your breath away. It makes you realize what life is all about. As great as my job is and how wonderful it is to be on a number one TV show, it disappears. It means nothing in the face of what I see with these young kids—what they are going through—and being able to give them a moment of joy. That, to me, is success. That is joy. That is life. The parents of these young children often feel helpless. They cannot take away the pain; they cannot take away the suffering.  That is heartbreaking to see on any level for any human being. The important thing to do when you are around other caregivers is to help them remember that there is so much they can do in other areas. For instance, in the dance movement therapy, just joining in with their child, bringing their child to the movement therapy class, talking to the movement therapist, and finding out that everybody else  feels helpless makes them feel less helpless.

Gary Barg: You have been doing some active caregiving yourself over the last few years. Where is your caregiving role right now?

Carrie Ann Inaba: I will tell you where I am right now. I think about three years ago, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent treatment, and I flew out to New York quite often to help her through it. She actually had really good family support there. Her new husband was with her, and he had been a caregiver before. She had a great support team, so once I felt comfortable, I did not go quite as often; but I was there at the beginning, helping her look at all the different forms of treatment. Really, when you are a caregiver, it is about helping the person who is going through whatever it is they are going through with decisions—not making them for them.

Gary Barg: I think that it is important for family caregivers to hear you say that. We always say that caring for yourself is job one, because who is going to step in and care for you and them when you fall apart because you took yourself out of the circle of care and you are not caring for yourself at all?

Carrie Ann Inaba:  Absolutely.  It is job one, yes.  You have to take care of yourself because without you, if you are the caregiver, what does anybody have?  I do believe that the next role is then to help them make good decisions about how they want to take care of themselves and their future, what medical treatments they want to take, what course of action they want to do, and what supplementary health care and alternative therapies are interesting or not interesting. It was actually a very beautiful experience because, as every caregiver knows, there is a bond that re-forms, especially when it is your parents. I had not been that close to my parents in a while. By being their caregiver, there are a lot of beautiful moments that happen because you are spending such quality time with someone you care about.  I found that to be such a beautiful catalyst, that my mom had cancer. It was such a scary word, but at the same time, so many beautiful things happened. Now my mom is in remission and she is living a healthier lifestyle than she did before she had cancer. She is much more aware of her health, and she has more gratitude towards her health. I guess her overall awareness of health has changed, and I am grateful for that because it makes me feel more confident in the choices she is making in her life and how she is taking care of herself.

 

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